1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE at BUF
Who is the Bills quarterback anyways, a guy named Jeff Tuel? All the changes to the Patriots could actually help Stephen Gostkowski, as it may take a few weeks for this offense to learn to convert in the red zone. This team will score points with Tom Brady at the helm, so he'll knock in some extra points too. In seven seasons, Gostkowski has only missed 1 extra point in 356 kicks. I love Gostkowski this week against a shaky defense that allowed 51 total extra points (30th in league) last season.
2. Blair Walsh, MIN at DET
Walsh caused many in the fantasy community to drop their jaws each Sunday. After posting one of the most amazing rookie seasons we will ever see, Walsh enters his second year in the league with high expectations. A Pro Bowl selection last year, Walsh was a perfect 10 of 10 from 50+ yards and 7 of 9 from 40-49 yards, which proves he has one of the better legs in the game. For a team that relies heavily on Adrian Peterson, Walsh will see plenty of conversions this season if drives aren't sustained. Last year, only one team allowed more field goal attempts than Detroit's 41. In a week one matchup indoors versus the Motor City Kitties, he could record several long field goal opportunities, which will lead to a successful fantasy start.
3. Phil Dawson, SF vs. GB
Dawson was finally able to remove the proverbial Browns paper bag off of his head after signing with the 49ers in the offseason. He is entering his 15th season in the league and actually recorded his highest field goal percentage (93.5%) of his career in 2012. He was arguably the most consistent player for the Browns last season and is sure to have plenty of opportunities to convert in a steady San Francisco offense. In week one, the team enters a rematch of the NFC Divisional Playoff game, where the 49ers shredded the Packers defense. The Green Bay defense allowed only 30 field goals last season, but with few personnel additions, look for Dawson to have a plethora of opportunities to open the season.
4. Matt Bryant, ATL at NO
Matt Bryant has proven that consistency is a key to success at this position. Bryant has hit 86% of his field goals in each of the past three seasons, while still recording a decent amount of attempts (31, 29, & 38). He opens the season against the Saints, who allowed a league worst 53 extra point chances. Mr. Clean (check it out; separated at birth) should provide scoring consistency in an offense that will score points.
5. Matt Prater, DEN vs. BAL
Prior to Peyton Manning arriving, Matt Prater has had his fair share of huge kicks in the 4th quarter and overtime, but has failed to get many chances in the first three quarters of games. That changed last year, and Prater's attempts soared. After being 26th and 28th in kicker opportunities in 2010 and 2011, he rose to a finish at the 6 spot in 2012. This week he faces a Ravens team that allowed a league worst 39 field goal opportunities last season and look materially worse this year. Baltimore lost a half dozen defensive starters, which means Prater should see plenty of work in week one.
6. Kai Forbath, WSH vs. PHI
After what seemed like a century of instability for Redskins kickers, the team has finally found its kicker for the future. Forbath entered the picture for the final 11 games of the 2012 season and subsequently only missed one of his field goal attempts. The only blemish being a 37-yard miss that hit the upright. Even with the Redskins kicking instability, they still managed to finish in the top 15 of attempted kicking points the past three years. The Eagles defense allowed 52 extra points opportunities, which ranked near the bottom of the league. With Philadelphia head coach ‘Chocolate Chip' Kelly and a retooled defense, Forbath will be a great week one start.
7. Adam Vinatieri, IND vs. OAK
After posting one of his best statistical seasons of his career in 2010, we have witnessed a slight decline in Adam Vinatieri's production over the past two seasons. Last year he missed seven field goal attempts, including three from under 40 yards. So why start him this week if he is declining statistically? He is facing a Raiders defense that is historically known for allowing a cavernous amount of points. Last year, only three teams allowed more than Oakland's 50 extra points. Vinatieri may not be a great weekly start, but this week's matchup has unusual upside.
8. Dan Bailey, DAL vs. NYG
Dan Bailey made huge game clinching kicks in his rookie season of 2011, but he quietly produced a more accurate sophomore season. He now needs 32 more attempts to qualify for the NFL field goal percentage list. At his current rate, he is on pace to oust Mike Vanderjagt from the top spot in NFL history. In week one, he takes his superior accuracy to a primetime matchup against the Giants. New York's defense allowed a second-worst 6,134 total yards and 30 total field goals, which means Bailey will be awarded multiple opportunities.
9. Rian Lindell, TB at NYJ
As the white and green trimmed East coasters reach the warm Florida air, Rex Ryan is sure to kick up a breeze. I wouldn't be afraid to start any kicker playing against a New York Jets team that is in absolute shambles. Last season the Jets defense allowed just 43 extra points, but this number is sure to rise. Rian Lindell played in Buffalo last season, posting an average field goal percentage, but leg strength has been the main concern. Lindell won't be a long-term fantasy option, but with a favorable matchup against New York's "finest", I wouldn't hesitate to insert him as a sleeper start in your league.
10. Randy Bullock, HOU at SD
Bullock missed the duration of the 2012 season with a groin injury, after being selected in the 5th round of the draft the same year. He was presented with a ton of opportunities at Texas A&M and holds the school record for most career field goals (63). He is a great week one start against a San Diego team that has many new faces among the defensive structure. The Chargers allowed the fewest field goals last year, just 19, and only six kickers managed more than one field goal in a game, but Bullock kicks for a solid offense that will generate opportunities.